Stop Throwing It!

“Stop throwing it. Place a strand on each limb individually.” Those were my mother’s words (paraphrased from decades ago). For my siblings and me, we were hopeful the “Tinsel grinch” might have stolen it from the attic. Yet alas there it was! If you are a “boomer” or older, you will recall those long, often tangled, pieces of tinsel.  As my siblings and I tried  to “hurry up the process by adding a “glob”, mother always “caught us.”

Year after year as our Dad went to attic to retrieve the tattered box of ornaments and lights , there were always a few “rodent gifts.”  I would shriek and jump back while Dad quickly reprimanded me, that I was larger than the mice and they were more afraid of me, than I of them. Dad, never had that fact correct, for I was petrified of mice and rats which made weekly visits to our small, meager house.

As a poor family, we never had a  carefully selected tree from the local tree lot or nursery. Ours was plucked from the native firs which graced the side of Oklahoma country roads. They were never pretty, but it was God’s gift to us. The decision on which tree would be hewn, was made with precise deliberation; one closet to the road and the easiest to cut down with a small hand saw. Thus, the trees were never large and took little time to decorate, with the exception of the labor intensive, individual embellishment of tinsel strands.

As we took each old, fragile, glass ornament from the musty cardboard box, it was seldom there wasn’t one which wasn’t missing much of the glaze or paint; most often exposed glass with minimal embellishment.  Nonetheless the tree of my youth was beautiful to us. How I would cherish one of those ornaments from those trees, but after our parents ceased setting up a tree, I never again saw the ornaments.

Perhaps the greatest beauty of those trees of yesteryear, was the bubble lights. When I visited my brother a couple of years ago during their Christmas celebration (in February upon the arrival of my nephew from his 3rd deployment to the middle east), I was enthralled to see the bubble lights on their family tree. Yes, my sister-in-law purchased those for him; nostalgia. I felt my heart bound a little more intensely as I recalled those scraggly, but “beautiful to us” trees of our youth.

Decorating a Christmas tree, no matter the size, nor the variety or cost brings joy to families. It is a reminder that God has given each of us another year of life and blessings. In 2004, Pope John Paul said “the Christmas tree exalts the value of life, as in winter what is evergreen becomes a sign of undying life, and it reminds Christians of the “tree of life”.  Psalm 96:12, NKJ “Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice.”

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